Monthly Archives: February 2015

Svengali (1931)

Svengali DVD

Warner Bros.
Starring:
 John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Crisp
Directed by: Archie Mayo

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Based on the novel Trilby by George L. Du Maurier.  Music maestro Svengali (John Barrymore) wields his power of hypnotism over women to get what he wants.  When he falls in love with the beautiful Trilby (Marian Marsh) he sets out to steal her from her intended as well as use her voice to make his fortune.

Kitty Cameo: In the first half of the film Svengali lives in an apartment where he owns a black cat which can be seen in several scenes.  He can first barely be seen sitting in a chair behind Svengali and his female music student who can’t sing.  But the cat can best be seen when Svengali is feeding it from a small dish on the floor in the following scene.

Svengali - feeding black cat close

Svengali - feeding black cat long shot

Later when Svengali has begun to work his powers over Trilby, he summons her to his room.  When she arrives and opens the door she sees him sitting in a chair with the cat in his lap.

Svengali - black cat on lap

At the end of this scene when Trilby runs away, Svengali sits smiling and the camera pans to the floor where the cat is reaching into a mousehole.  The filmmaker likely intended this as being symbolic of the way Svengali is playing cat and mouse with Trilby.

Svengali - black cat reaching into hole

Final Mewsings: Cats are fortunately immune to psycho hypnotists.


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101 Dalmatians (1996)

101 Dalmatians Live Action DVD

Walt Disney Pictures
Starring:
 Glenn Close, Jeff Daniels, Joely Richardson
Directed by: Stephen Herek

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: This live-action remake of the original animated film stars Glen Close as the viciously evil Cruella DeVil, a fashion designer and fur enthusiast who gets it into her head to kidnap the puppies of her former employee Anita (Joely Richardson) and her video game creator husband Roger (Jeff Daniels).

Kitty Cameo: The biggest disappointment of this adaptation by far is the omission of Sgt. Tibs as a pivotal character.  The Colonel and Captain are both still present and get at least a little bit of screen time, but Tibs is only seen very briefly, the first time during the initial scene in the barn.

101 Dalmatians Live Action - cat in barn

And again when he runs away while Cruella is throwing a fit in the barn.  The role of rescuing the puppies is taken over by another dog and many other animals are brought in to play various pranks on Cruella.  While it’s somewhat understandable that pulling off the scenes with Tibs rescuing the puppies in live action would be pretty impractical (if not downright impossible) at least they could have given him a little something more to do.

101 Dalmatians Live Action - cat in barn close

Final Mewsings: Sgt. Tibs did not deserve to be demoted.


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They Made Me a Fugitive (1947)

They Made Me a Fugitive DVD

Also Known As: I Became a Criminal
Alliance Films Corporation
Starring:
 Sally Gray, Trevor Howard, Griffith Jones
Directed by: Cavalcanti

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: An ex-war hero Clem (Trevor Howard) falls in with a gang of thieves but tries to leave when he finds out the leader, Narcy (Griffith Jones) is dealing in drugs.  Narcy frames Clem for a prison sentence and when Clem manages to escape he’s seeking revenge!

Purr Blur: Near the end of the movie Narcy returns to the funeral home called Valhalla which he has been using as a front, expecting Clem to look for him there.  During an establishing shot of the place we see a cat run across the sidewalk and down an alley.

They Made Me a Fugitive - cat running across sidewalk

Final Mewsings: Cats know to make themselves scarce before the final showdown.


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North Sea Hijack (1979)

Ffolkes / North Sea Hijack DVD

Alternative title: ffolkes
Universal Pictures
Starring:
 Roger Moore, Anthony Perkins, James Mason
Directed by: Andrew V. McLaglen

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Roger Moore) is in charge of an elite SWAT-style team who specialize in underwater tactics.  The British government finds itself in need of his services when a vicious criminal group headed by a mysterious man named Kramer (Anthony Perkins) hijack an oil rig command platform in the North Sea and threaten to blow up two oil rigs unless they are paid a hefty ransom.

Kitty Cameos: ffolkes is an unorthodox espionage hero in that he loves cats, does needlepoint to help him concentrate and, in direct contrast with Moore’s Bond personage, strongly dislikes women.  In the early part of the film we see ffolkes training his men at his castle headquarters.  Having been called to London on business, ffolkes packs his bags and we see he owns several cats which are all around the room.

ffolkes - cat in room

One tabby cat keeps sneaking into ffolkes’ overnight bag.  He gently removes the cat each time, saying, “Not this trip, Mary.”

ffolkes - cat Mary in bag

Another cat can be seen sitting on the safe after ffolkes retrieves some money.  This black cat he refers to as Enoch (according to the trivia on IMDb, this was likely a jab at Enoch Powell, a British politician with a firm stand against immigration.)

ffolkes - black cat Enoch

Later in the film when Admiral Brinsden (James Mason) comes to recruit ffolkes to aid them in wresting control of the oil rigs away from the hijackers, ffolkes sits at his desk with his tabby cat Mary on his lap.  He tells the Admiral in his straight-forward style, “I like cats.  I don’t like people who don’t.”

ffolkes - cat Mary on Roger Moore ffolkes' lap

Cat Burglars (Scene Stealers): At the end of the film when ffolkes and his team have saved the day, the prime minister and those involved in the effort gather to reward ffolkes at his retreat.  The prime minister says she knows that ffolkes doesn’t care for medals or honors, so instead he is presented with a lovely red box.  The lid is removed to reveal it contains three adorable white kittens!  ffolkes is genuinely appreciative of the gesture and excuses himself to get them some milk.

ffolkes - white kittens in box

Also according to the IMDb trivia, Roger Moore wrote in his autobiography that members of the film’s crew tried to sedate some of the cats on the set without James Mason finding out.  James Mason, as you may know from one of our Feature Stories, was a great lover of cats along with his wife.  One would guess this was done to make the cats more managable during filming.

ffolkes - promotional still Roger Moore and cat

Final Mewsings: Every hero deserves a boxful of kittens!


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Perry Mason – “The Case of the Careless Kitten”

Perry Mason Season 8 Vol. 2 DVD

Original Air Date: March 25, 1965
Starring: Raymond Burr, Julie Sommars, Allan Melvin
Directed by: Vincent McEveety

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains spoilers for this episode!

Synopsis: Based on one of the original Perry Mason stories, the Shore family has its share of problems, not the least of which is a missing uncle who seems to want to reappear ten years later, an overbearing matriarch who doesn’t trust cats and a dead body that shows up when least expected.

Featured Feline: The cat referred to in the title is an absolutely adorable young Siamese cat named Monkey which is seen off and on throughout the episode.  In the first scene the cat is pacing nervously on a high shelf above Matilda (Louise Latham) and Gerald Shore (Lloyd Corrigan).

Perry Mason - The Case of the Careless Kitten Siamese cat Monkey on shelf

Monkey suddenly jumps down and lands hard on the table, scaring Matilda, who starts after the cat like she will kill it.  Her niece Helen (Julie Sommars) races into the room to rescue Monkey.

Perry Mason - The Case of the Careless Kitten Helen comforts Siamese cat Monkey

Shortly afterwards we hear Monkey has been poisoned with strychnine but fortunately isn’t killed.  Helen is taking no chances and takes the cat to stay at the family’s long-time gardener Thomas (Allan Melvin).

Perry Mason - The Case of the Careless Kitten Thomas and Siamese cat

Monkey isn’t seen for a while until Perry Mason is approached by Thomas saying that the missing uncle is at his place.  When they arrive at Thomas’ home they find an empty bed, an open window, cat tracks of flour throughout the place and a gun in the flour container.  Monkey is seen licking his paws.

Perry Mason - The Case of the Careless Kitten Siamese cat licking paws

Eventually the pieces of the mystery are put together and a killer is revealed, thanks in part to Monkey.  In the last scene the kitten jumps down from a shelf into a coffee service.

Perry Mason - The Case of the Careless Kitten Siamese cat about to jump from shelf

Final Mewsings: Cats are not careless, it’s just that people leave their things where cats plan to jump!


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